Anti-illegal immigration rally met by pro-immigration protesters
Two groups of demonstrators mobilized on Saturday at the Peace Arch border crossing, one to voice their objections to illegal immigration and another to support immigration and denounce racism.
Some of the anti-illegal immigration protestors at the Peace Arch in White Rock taunted the pro-immigration protestors as they left, but otherwise the event was peaceful.
"We organized a counter-rally to show that most Canadians stand up for the values of diversity and inclusivity," said Donna Morgan, one of the pro-immigration organizers with Stand Up to Racism Metro Vancouver.
She said Canadians who promote inclusivity vastly outnumber those who don't, and pointed to the Vancouver anti-racism rally at City Hall in August as evidence.
"These right racist ideologies can get a grip on the electoral system. That's why we think it's important to bring out the message of love and compassion," she said.
Helene Shaw, one of the speakers at the anti-illegal immigration rally, said she's fine with refugees entering the country legally but objects to asylum seekers crossing the border.
"You need to have a fishing license or a dog license, but you don't need anything—not papers—to get into our country," she said.
Asylum seekers often cross the border from the U.S. to Canada on foot and avoid legal ports of entry because of the Safe Third Country Agreement. That's an agreement between Canada and the U.S. that says refugees must apply for asylum in the first safe country in which they land.
But some refugees no longer feel the U.S. is a safe country or fear their application for asylum will be denied there, so they cross the border illegally and claim asylum once they're already in Canada.
RCMP officers were on site standing between the two groups of protestors.
Sgt. Winston Shorey says his job is to protect people's right to express their views while also maintaining public safety.
"The event went very well," he said. "There were no incidents of concern and no arrests."
He estimates 65-80 people showed up.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDonald.